You are busy. You have so much to do; and you don’t know whether you’re Arthur or Martha. You have papers piling up on your desk so high that you cannot see past them. You are starting to drown and you cannot see a way out.
Well, you are not alone. There are many who struggle to balance tasks with time.
When it comes to that to-do list, one has to learn to either do, delegate or dump.
While that sounds fairly simple, it still requires some application processes. There are a few ways you can apply these three actions and come out the other side in one piece.
#1 Make sure you have a to-do list
It seems like an obvious first step, but often times we just take on a whole lot of tasks and don’t really even know what all we have to do. Making a list helps to bring it all together and certainly helps to make sense of the mayhem.
#2 Why are you doing it?
Take a real long and hard look at the list, and ask yourself why you are doing it. List the reason why you need to do that particular task. If the reason shows you that someone else can do it, then delegate it. If the reason shows you that it is not an important task, then dump it. And, lastly, if the reason tells you glaringly and obviously that you are the one to handle it, then do it.
#3 What is more important?
Splitting your list into the Do, Delegate or Dump piles, is just part of the process. Now you need to split each of those piles into further segmentations.
A = High Priority (i.e. Needs to be done today)
B = Medium Priority (i.e. Can be done tomorrow)
C = Low Priority (i.e. Can be done in a few weeks time)
Once you have split your tasks into these priority piles, then you are well on your way to making good work on getting rid of them.
And that is the key to all of this. Getting rid of the tasks.
#4 Following through is paramount
Now that you have done the groundwork, get going on implementing. And, by this I mean either … you know it …
The Doing part
These are yours and you need to attend to them in the order of urgency as you segmented earlier. Take your diary or calendar. Plot out when you have time to do these tasks and slot them in like appointments. Again, from most urgent to least urgent.
Even better, is to use a system, such as the Task list in Outlook, which will allow you to set a due date and reminders. There is nothing more satisfying, when it comes to tasks, to tick it off the list as completed.
By having a to-do list and sticking to the outline you create, in getting rid of the task, you will feel, immediately lighter and less stressed.
The Delegating part
Not all of us are great delegators, but it is literally impossible to do everything oneself, so one must delegate. This may mean giving work to a subordinate, most times, but it may also mean giving work to a colleague, an equal.
If you are a man-alone business, it may be sourcing outside assistance. There are many small businesses that offer services that involve administration help. Simple tasks like filing, tax returns, copying, delivering, data capturing and marketing, can easily be outsourced for a small fee. In the long run, it will come back to you tenfold.
Possibly, dependent on your business, you could do a service swap, whereby you help out another small business owner, and they do something for you. Another idea is to share with someone. Reception services, cold calling, and other similar jobs can be shared with a business in the same industry as yours, or even if they are not.
You could even make use of a virtual assistant if you cannot afford to employ someone. Virtual Assistants don’t sit in your office, and are, literally, virtual. They work remotely at their own premises and can cover a wide range of tasks that do not require them to be in the same office as yours. I have known virtual assistants to be located in another country to their employer. It works. Try it!
In a corporate environment, it is important to establish, from the list of tasks, if you are meant to be doing that particular task. Sometimes we get straddled with tasks that actually do not fall under our job description. Be careful not to be the “ja broer”, always accepting tasks that get thrown up into the air.
Make sure you are not splitting yourself into too many pieces. There is much to be said for giving the busiest person more work, but if you are spinning out of control, you will, eventually, drop a ball or two.
When you delegate, follow through. Check up on the person you gave the task to, even if you know it was not your job in the first place. Somehow, along the line, it became yours, and it is still your responsibility to ensure it is completed.
Create a separate task list of these delegated to-do’s, and diarise to check up on them in a given timeframe.
There are many systems on the market that allow you to assign tasks and keep tabs on them without having to physically ask the person what’s happening. A few that come to mind are Evernote and Workpool. You can share tasks via these and other platforms, keeping track as the task is attended to.
Google Docs is another great free option, and works in a slightly different manner to the former platforms, where you create a document, share it with someone, and then you and they can make adjustments to the document. Remember, though, once the change is made it is live and saved. Any prior work will be lost when written over.
The Dumping part
It is not easy to dump stuff. We worry that, somewhere, in the future, that it will become necessary. We worry that if we get rid of it for good that it will come back to bite us in the end. So, when we say dump, we say just file away rather. If a task was given to you at some point, it may have been important at the time. But, sometimes, tasks have sell-by dates. If they are not attended to in a given timeframe, they lose their appeal and necessity.
A good example may be that you were to have followed up on a special on airline tickets for your bosses business trip to Chicago. Because you didn’t, the special has now passed and his flight needs to be booked via the normal way. Dump it!
Perhaps, you had thought it a good idea to have all the servers cleaned by a professional cleaning company. But, since then the servers have been replaced with brand new ones. That task isn’t required anymore. Dump it!
Deciding to dump a task takes much thought and it may be that you don’t have the authority to dump something. So, make sure that you do and if not, find out who does.
With the Do, Delegate or Dump technique, which really can be applied to many angles of life, the groundwork does take a little time, but in the death, you will be saving so much time.
Now, every time, a task crosses your desk or email, apply the trio rule.
Do I …